I finally saw Rogue One last night, and despite all the hype and rave reviews of the latest addition to the Star Wars cannon, I left feeling a bit let down. I don't think this is due to failings of the film. As my partner pointed out--we had known from the start how Rogue One ended, more or less. Like most everyone who's enjoyed Star Wars as a child and adult, I was excited for a grittier, more "real" Star Wars film. However, after seeing this one, I have to say that a Star Wars movie that is made more as a war movie, leaves a lot to be desired--for me anyway. The magic and spiritual nature (drawn so much from Joseph Campell) which surrounds the force seemed to be more of a token than of real importance in this film, which I sorta liked, but it certainly took some of the appeal away for me.
My one, biggest beef, which led to one of the things I liked the most (so perhaps it was warranted) was the ad hoc'ed scene with Darth Vader and Krennic. While I like the man in the black space samurai suit as much as anyone, that scene felt as though it was only part of the movie to please fans--but didn't really belong there. Another reason they may have added it, was so that they could have Vader kill all those poor rebel kids at the end of the film--which was awesome. In the original trilogy, everyone knew Vader was just the biggest baddest guy--but we never saw how dangerous and devastating he really was against the average guy--and damn, I mean, he killed 30 people like nothing, which just shows how evil he's become. I liked that moment, probably more than any other.
I've begun drafting my second novel. Some people find it difficult to draft more than one piece at a time. I find it essential. Jumping from piece to piece makes me certain I won't become board with a project.
This new piece I started yesterday is much different than any piece I've written before, in terms of planning--anyway. When I've created characters in the past I started writing and they took on personalities as I delved deeper into the story and their lives. This new novel has percolated in my mind for some time, it's grown like a palmar granite, waiting to be cracked open and exposed with all the little juicy seeds inside, and I have a little pocket-sized sketchbook I use to store those seeds or ideas. The sketch book is filled with research ideas, such as Shintoism (the religion will play a part in this piece) and Japanese culture. But another, more interesting note--to me anyway, is whether one of my main characters is male or female, black, or latino, Jewish, Christian, atheist. The story will vary dramatically depending on the answers to such questions. In the past, I never discounted these aspects of character, but for some reason, these aspects seemed to come from thin air--they were not a choice I consciously made. In my last novel (which is seeking an agent right now) I have a collection of main characters, some of them white, a couple Native Americans, a young girl who I imagine to be latino, but seeing as the world she lives in is fantastical in many aspects, readers might not come to that conclusions--and many other peoples. These characters were just the way they were when I wrote them, because, it seemed to make sense in terms of story. This new piece, however, feels more deliberate. Or it's more obvious to me now, how changing the ethnicity of any character will impact the plot of the piece dramatically. It will change what they carry in their bag when they travel, what books they'd keep on their shelves at home, even what kind of beer or wine they enjoy with dinner. This level of conscious consideration is new to my writing--welcome and new. I've often felt, in regards to my writing craft, that I am on a precipice of understanding the craft in a more thorough way. Just if I could remember all that I have seen there, exactly how it was, looking out from that high place, would I have a more thorough and lasting understanding of the writing process. This is one of those times. One of those moments where I have been introduced to a larger world.
This holiday season has been a welcome distraction from the train wreck we called an election this year. But it's come with some disturbing commercials. As if I didn't have enough reason to dislike Walmart. . . then they came out with a doozy of a holiday add.
The add opens innocently enough. Guy walks in, his wife is in the living room reading a book. That's great, cool, awesome.
Without looking up, she gives him a wave. She's obviously enjoying her book. Cool stuff. Then it all goes down hill.
Yeah, it's not shown here, but the guy gets a look on his face, that is trouble. Then he whips out his phone and buys a computer for his wife. I can't tell you how distressed this makes me. This add is telling the audience that there is something strange, wrong, and/or poor, about reading a book, rather than spending it on your computer--doing. . . whatever people do on computers. This add seeks to devalue screen-free time, and propagates the idea that we shouldn't be content with time spent in silence, which in turn reinforces the cultural ADHD our society grapples with. Next frame:
Next, this father comes across his daughter who's playing with some cool stuffed animals that look locally made, or at least as though they do not reinforce harmful gender identities and expectations. So what does this father do! I'll tell you what he does!
He whips out his phone again, as though it's a holstered pistol, and buys her doll. Granted, it's a veterinarian doll, which is awesome--and makes sense since his daughter was playing with stuffed animals. But what's wrong with cool handmade, alternative stuff? She can pretend to be a veterinarian on the dolls she already has. I think children should be left to come to these realizations on their own. When I was a kid I had dinosaur toys, and decided I wanted to be an paleontologist--I didn't need a toy to tell me to have dreams.
The last few frames end the commercial a little less offensively than the others, as small TVs are a bummer--and as someone who likes watching sports--big TVs are certainly appriciated by this one. However, there's nothing wrong with living modestly. Not everyone needs a 50" TV.